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Heartgard Plus vs. Heartgard for Dogs

Which Is Right for Your Canine?

By Lauren Leonardi . September 04, 2013 | See Comments

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    vet verified

    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

    DVM

Heartgard Plus vs. Heartgard for Dogs

Heartgard Plus and Heartgard for Dogs are two of the leading heartworm preventatives on the market. Although their names are similar, they actually have some key differences. Find out more here to help better decide which medication is the best for your dog.

Heartworms can lead to all sorts of devastating outcomes, which is why prevention is so important. Heartgard for Dogs helps to prevent heartworms, and Heartgard Plus does triple duty to prevent heartworms, as well as ascarid and hookworm infections.

Heartworms in dogs can cause permanent damage to blood vessels, can make breathing very difficult, and if left untreated, can cause a pet’s death. This is why preventative medications like Heartgard Plus and Heartgard for Dogs are so important. Treatment for infected dogs can be long-term and expensive, and dog parents must undergo the difficult task of keeping their dogs quiet and calm for many months, since excitability and exercise are known to exacerbate a dog’s symptoms, and could even lead to death.

Heartworms are transmitted through mosquito bites, and unfortunately there’s no way to know if a mosquito was infected, or whether its bite has caused or will cause heartworms. The only way to prevent the onset of heartworms is to arm your dog with regular prevention medications like Heartgard. So what are the differences of Heartgard Plus vs. Heartgard?

WHAT does HEARTGARD PROTECT AGAINST?

Heartgard and Heartgard Plus both protect dogs against heartworm infestation.

  • Heartgard protects against heartworms alone.

  • Heartgard Plus protects against heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, and other ascarids (types of intestinal parasites).

HOW LONG DOES A DOSE LAST?

Each dose of Heartgard or Heartgard Plus lasts 30 days.

ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?

Ivermectin is the primary ingredient in Heartgard as well as in Heartgard Plus. Ivermectin in high doses, as is used in cases of sarcoptic mange for example, can pose some risks. The doses of ivermectin used for heartworm prevention, however, are relatively low. Therefore, the risks of side effects are also low, with a few exceptions.

Collies and other similar herding breeds are known to have Ivermectin intolerance. For this reason, your veterinarian may wish to use an alternative heartworm prevention treatment. If you have a sheepdog or Australian Shepherd, you may wish to consult your vet before administering these drugs.

WHAT IS THE AGE MINIMUM FOR HEARTGARD?

Neither Heartgard or Heartgard Plus should be given to puppies till they’re at least 6 weeks of age.

CAN HEARTGARD BE ADMINISTERED TO PREGNANT PETS?

Speak with your vet about giving this medication to pregnant dogs. Any medication should be used with great care and caution when it comes to pregnant animals.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The medications in Heartgard and Heartgard Plus work in essentially the same way. The chemical formulations in each medication are designed to cause paralysis and death in worms, at the larval stage. This means that worms are never able to mature into adulthood or reproduce. They die before they develop, thereby ensuring that your dog will suffer no deleterious effects from their presence.

 

  Application

 For the
 Prevention of...

 Recommended
 age of
 application

 
  Heartgard

  Chewable pill form;
  effective 1
  month

  Heartworms

  6 weeks or older

  Heartgard Plus 

  Chewable pill
  form; effective 1
  month

  Heartworms
  Ascarids
  Hookworms

  6 weeks or older


More on Heartworms

Top 7 Dog Heartworm Treatments
Signs of Feline Heartworm Disease
Can People Get Heartworms?
Heartworm Tests Explained

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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